Hartlepool councillors call to scrap tax as part of period poverty campaign

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Calls to lobby government to scrap tax on sanitary products have been made by councillors as part of work to battle period poverty.

Hartlepool Borough Council children’s service committee gave an update on the work being done in support of the Tees Valley Free Period Campaign since it joined in February this year.

The campaign states no woman in the area should be forced into poverty due to her periods and no girls should miss school or work due to periods.

As well as giving an update on numerous schemes carried out so far, councillors said they would lobby government to scrap the tax on tampons.

Tampons—and other feminine hygiene products—are subject to value-added tax, unlike the tax exemption status granted to other products considered basic necessities.

Coun Marjorie James said: “It’s appalling, it has been a hidden tax on women for a long time.

“If you had two identical families on identical incomes but one had two boys and one had two girls, you’re looking at an extra £40 expenditure a month even though the income is the same.

“It is unfair and the added tax is appalling.

“We need to keep lobbying our MP to get this through to parliament.”

Children’s services chair Coun Brenda Harrison said: “When you have to use these products you have to use them, there is no choice in the matter.

“I don’t think you should have to pay at all really.

“There certainly should not be a tax for it.”

The council has already taken several steps to address period poverty in the area, including taking part in the piloting of a national ‘P-Card’ scheme across Teesside.

This provides free products and education to girls about sanitary products, health and hygiene, and is based on the  “C-Card” initiative which gives young people confidential access to contraceptive advice and services.

The Joseph Rowntree Trust has also made sanitary products available at poverty awareness events across the town and the food bank provides sanitary products along with other toiletries.

Council officers also confirmed both primary and secondary schools in Hartlepool have been made aware of the impact of period poverty and have products on offer.

Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall, said: “All secondary schools have products available at any time, we have plenty available.

“These are available to any pupil, if they need it, they need it.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service